Toup, Jonathan

, a very eminent critic, was descended from a family formerly settled in Dorsetshire. His grandfather, Onesiphorus Toup, had been a man of good property, and patron, as well as incumbent, of Bridport in that county; but he appears to have been embarrassed in his circumstances before his death, as he parted with the advowson, and left a numerous family very slenderly provided for. His second son, Jonathan, was bred to the church, and was curate and lecturer of St. Ives, Cornwall. He married Prudence, daughter of John Busvargus, esq. of Busvargus in Cornwall, and by her had issue Jonathan, the subject of this memoir, and one daughter.

Jonathan, our critic, was born at St. Ives, in December 1713. He received the first principles of his education in a grammar-school in that town, and was afterwards placed under the care of Mr. Gurney, master of a private school, in the parish of St. Merryn. He was removed from this school to Exeter college, Oxford, where he took his degree of batchelor of arts; but his master of arts degree was taken at Pembroke hall, Cambridge, in 1756. In 1750, he was appointed to the rectory of St. Martin’s, and, in 1774, was installed prebendary of Exeter. In 1776, he was instituted to the vicarage of St. Merryn’s. He owed these two last pieces of preferment to the patronage of Dr. Keppel, bishop of Exeter.

Mr. Toup had lost his father whilst he was a child: and his mother sometime after marrying Mr. Keigwin, vicar of Landrake in Cornwall, his uncle Busvargus (the last male of that family) took him under his care: considered him as his own child; and bore the whole charge of his education both at school and college. By the death of this excellent man, without issue, in 1751, Mrs. Keigwin succeeded, as heir at law, to his estate and effects. A will was indeed found, supposed to have been signed by old Mr. Busvargus two days before his death: but there were so many suspicious circumstances attending it, that the | persons who would have been benefited by it never ventured to prove it. Mrs. Keigwin died in 1773, and left a will, bequeathing the whole of her estates to her son Jonathan, which accounts for the property of which he died possessed, and which could not have accumulated from his preferments or his publications.

In 1760, Mr. Toup published the first work which made him known to the world as a critic. This was the first part of his “Emendationes in Suidam, in quibus plurima loca veterum Grsecorum, Sophoclis et Aristophanis imprimis, cum explicantur turn emenclantur,” 8vo. The second part appeared in 1764. This work procured him the notice of bishop Warburton, who, from the time of its publication, honoured him with his correspondence and patronage. The bishop, in one of his letters, laments his having a see without any preferment on it: “had it been otherwise, he should have been too selfish to invite any of his brethren to share with him in the honour of properly distinguishing such merit as Mr. Toup’s.” All, however, that the bishop could do, he did with the warmth and earnestness of sincere friendship. He repeatedly recommended Mr. Toup to archbishop Seeker, to the trustees for disposing of his options, to lord Shelburne, and to bishop Keppel; and the favours that prelate conferred on Mr. Toup were owing to the solicitations of bishop Warburton.

In 1766 the third part of the “Emendationes in Suidam” was published, and in the following year archbishop Seeker expressed a desire that Mr. Toup would lend his assistance towards a new edition of Polybius, which was then in contemplation; and bishop Warburton, who seconded this wish, advised him to lay aside for a while the notes he was preparing for Warton’s edition of Theocritus, but it does not appear what progress was made in this edition. In 1767, he published his “Epistola critica ad virum celeberrimum Guhelmum episcopum Glocestriensern,” 8vo. In this letter to his friend Warburton, he takes occasion to correct and illustrate many passages in ancient and especially Greek authors, with his usual acuteness and judgment. In 1770, Mr. Warton’s edition of Theocritus was printed at the university press at Oxford. Mr. Toup had been a large contributor towards the corrections and annotations of this edition, in the title page of which is noticed, “Epistola Jo. Toupii de S^racusis, ejusdemque Addenda in Theocritum, necnon collationes quindecim | codicum.” But a note of his on idyll. XIV. written, we should have said, in an unguarded moment, had he not repealed and attempted to defend it afterwards, gave such offence (to Dr. Lowth particularly) that the vice-chancellor of Oxford had it cancelled and another substituted in its room. Mr. Warton, according to Mr. Cole, pleaded that Toup had inserted it without his knowledge. On the other hand, our principal authority vindicates Mr. Toup, by saying that Mr. Warton had not stopped this note from going to the press, and that “a respectable friend, in a letter on this subject, declares his persuasion of Mr. Toup’s sincere veneration for religion.” Mr. Nichols very candidly adds, “The matter is before the public, who may form their own judgment on it.*' One thing is very certain, that the note is grossly indecent, and such a one as ne should not have suspected from a man who had” a sincere veneration for religion;“and that it was a deliberate act on the part of Mr. Toup, appeared from his publication in 1772 of his” Curae posteriores, sive Appendicula notarum atque emendationum in Theocritum, Oxonii nuperrime pubhcatum,“4to, in which the cancelled note is repeated, with a reflection (in the preface) on the persons who had found fault with it, as” homunculi eruditione mediocri, ingenio nullo,“and perhaps the following may allude 10 Lowth,” qui in Hebraicis per omnem fere vitam turpiter volntati, in litteris elegantioribus plane hospites sum.“By the same spirit of captious criticism and contempt for his brethren, in which, it must be allowed, Toup too frequently indulged, he gave great offence to Reiske, who in complimenting Warton for his urbanity, calls Toup” ferocious and foul-mouthed," although few critics have deserved this character more than Reiske himself.

Mr. Toup’s next work was the “Appendiculum notarum in Suidam,177.5, which may be considered as a fourth volume of his “Emendationes.” He closed his labours in 1773 by his edition of “Longinus,” which places his fame as a critic, on an imperishable basis. Indeed as a writer of profound learning, and singular critical sagacity, Mr. Toup must be acknowledged to rank wirli the most eminent men, in those departments. Dr. Buruey, uhose right to judge cannot easily be disputed, place* him as one of the seven pre-eminent scholars who were the critical luminaries of the eighteenth century. | As his life was passed in literary retirement, his personal character was known to few. Hrefailings seem principally confined to his works, in which we are often led to lament an excess of conceit, and a petulant manner of noticing his contemporaries. He censured too freely, and praised too sparingly. In private life he was a kind neighbour, an indulgent master, and an affectionate and tender relation. He was a man, too, of great humanity, which he delighted to extend to the brute creation. We may suppose he also carefully attended to his duties as a parish priest, for, of all things, he expressed the greatest aversion to non-residence, and rejected every proposal to quit his situation upon such terms. Mr. Toup died Jan. 19, 1785, in the seventy-second year of his age, and was buried under the communion table in his church of St. Martin. He bequeathed his property to a half-sister, a widow, and her daughters, who lived with him. It was one of his whims, in his latter writings to call himself Joannes, instead of Jonathan Toup. Many additional particulars respecting this excellent scholar may be found in our authority. 1

1 Nichols’s Bowyer.